Taxis in Nice

Max Roy, head of the Nice Taxi Union, with his taxiThey’re getting better, but in the past, taxis in Nice had the worst reputation in all of France (which is why Ubers are becoming so popular here…).

Here are a few tips and things you need to know before you take a taxi in Nice.

Before you get in, start the conversation with the all-important greeting “Bonjour Monsieur” …this is a small thing, but if you don’t say it he will feel disrespected right off the bat, and it’s all down hill from there.

Ask the driver roughly how much it will cost (“Combien ça coûte d’aller à  ___?“), tell him you will need a receipt (“J’ai besoin d’un reçu, s’il vous plait”), and check that the meter is set correctly to day (jour) or night (nuit) or holiday (feries)

If he doesn’t turn on the meter, ask him to please turn it on “Je prefere que vous utiliser la taximetre, si vous plait.

If the meter is obscured by the driver’s hand near the end of the trip, he is probably planning on overcharging; just ask to see the meter “Je peux voir la taximetre, si vous plait?” and he will know that he can’t get away with it.

Old movie poster of James Cagney in 'Taxi'Nice taxi prices:  A trip from the airport will will cost you about 35-40€ for up to 4 people (depending on luggage) and will take about 20 minutes.  

If you call for a taxi he will start charging from wherever he is when you call, unless you reserve in advance, in which case he’ll only start charging from the nearest taxi stand.   

For a trip in town, the meter starts at 3€ (the highest in France), then they charge 2.08€/km for daytime Mon-Sat, and 2.60€/km for nights, Sundays, and French holidays, of which there are a lot.  (1 km = 0.6 miles)   There is a minimum charge of 7€, but in reality, the taxi won’t want to move for less than 15€.

They can charge these prices because there is a shortage of taxis in Nice …in fact the number of taxis has not been increased since the 1960’s, thanks to pressure from the taxi union.  This keeps the price of a coveted taxi license astronomically high, currently around 300,000€, and it can only be bought from a retiring driver.  Those that have licenses have fought hard not to increase the number of taxis to meet the demand …they won’t even to allow a license be shared by one driver during the day and another at night, to help relieve some of the pressure. It’s easy to understand why Ubers, private car services, and ride-sharing websites like BlaBlaCar are all becoming so popular.

Tipping:  Up to you… for short trips, usually just round it up to the nearest euro, but for longer trips 2-5% is about right… or tip nothing if it seems too high.

Paying:   Most taxis insist on cash; they are technically required to take credit cards, but by some mystery, 90% of the drivers have perpetually broken card machines.  Be sure to check before getting in, otherwise the meter will continue to run while your driver takes you to a cash machine!   Did I mention that more and more people are using Uber these days?

Calling a cab:  The number to call for a taxi in Nice is 04 93 13 78 78 (from a non-French phone, it’s 0033 4 93 13 78 78), and they speak English.  As I mentioned, the cab will start charging from wherever it is when the call comes in, so by the time he arrives to pick you up you could already have a hefty charge on the meter.   The taxi number in Cannes is 0033 890 712 227, and in Monaco 0033 820 209 898.

Taxi Stands:  Here’s a list of Nice Taxi Stands, and you can find the nearest taxi stand with an iPhone or a smart phone using the fabulous Around Me app.

Moto-Taxis:  If you’re game, taking a Moto-Taxi is another option.  The motorcycles have saddlebag-style metal luggage racks, passenger helmets, passenger gloves, and… full insurance.  Doesn’t really cost less that a regular taxi but is certainly more fun, and with the famous Nice traffic, could be a lot quicker!

See related page Using Uber in Nice, and related blog post Taxi Uber Wars!

Photo Credits:   James Cagney in Taxi can be ordered through,  Photo of Max Roy, the head of the Nice Taxi Union by Patrice Lapoirie, courtesy of the Nice-Matin.

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